The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is getting ready to launch the 2018 West Nile Virus program.

The program, in partnership with local municipalities and Pestalto Environmental Services, will be launching on Tuesday, May 22.

This program includes larviciding catch basins, standing water sites, and lagoons to disrupt mosquito breeding, educating residents on self-protection, conducting adult mosquito surveillance, and investigating human cases.

“West Nile Virus is a potentially serious illness that is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Each year, we have to prepare and assume that mosquitoes are carrying the West Nile virus,” says Dr. Wajid Ahmed, acting Medical Officer of Health. “By taking simple precautions, residents can reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes.”

To protect yourself and your family from WNV, follow these tips:

-Use insect repellents that contain DEET, Icaridin, or other approved ingredients on clothing as well as exposed skin. Always read and follow label directions.

-Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a hat when outdoors. Light-coloured clothing is best as mosquitoes tend to be attracted to dark colours.

-Make sure that door and window screens fit securely and are free of holes.

-While part of the West Nile virus strategy involves larviciding in areas where the mosquito larvae are found, individuals can also make a difference by removing any hazards that could become a reservoir for standing water, such as old tires, upturned wheelbarrows, animal dishes, and unused flower pots. It is important to change water regularly, especially in pet dishes and water in bird baths. Reducing pools of standing water reduces the places mosquitoes can breed.

For background information including statistics from 2014 to 2017, visit the Health Unit’s West Nile virus web page.